Anonymummies's Blog

Male Victim Of Sexual Abuse – “I Was Abused By A Woman And It Haunts Me Every Day”

Posted on: November 21, 2009

  • In: Sociopaths
  • Comments Off on Male Victim Of Sexual Abuse – “I Was Abused By A Woman And It Haunts Me Every Day”
16:42 11/16/2009

November 17th 2009

Article from The Daily Mail (UK)

It seems unthinkable, but ChildLine says calls from boys abused by women have doubled in a year. This deeply disturbing investigation reveals the terrible impact of a crime that society has never dared to confront.

Bill Jenkins’s memories of the childhood abuse he suffered are as sharp as the pain that accompanies them.

He remembers the diamond pattern on the linoleum bathroom floor tiles, the Moby Dick mural on the wall, the door handle which seemed so high up next to his six-year-old frame.

He vividly remembers, too, how he was expected to bath and touch his naked abuser, an ordeal which left him confused and ashamed, and changed the course of his life. ‘The vision in my head is crystal clear,’ he says.

What took place in the bathroom of that house in Sussex 50 years ago is shocking enough, but what makes it even harder to comprehend is that Bill’s abuser was his foster mother – a woman entrusted with caring for him when his own parents couldn’t.

‘My lasting feelings about my childhood are feelings of fear,’ says the 55-year-old from Thorpe in Surrey.

‘I was always frightened of her and what she forced me to endure affected the rest of my life, but as a society we have a mental block about female abusers. We are shocked when we see it happens. We can’t believe that women are capable of such things.’

But the stereotypical belief that sex abuse is a male crime was shattered last week by an astonishing report from ChildLine which revealed that the number of children reporting sexual abuse by women has doubled over the past year.

The latest figures from the children’s telephone helpline show a 132 per cent rise in complaints of female sexual assaults. Where the children specified the gender of their abuser, nearly a quarter of all calls involved women assailants and the majority of those involved the callers’ own mothers.

And while girls are still more likely to be sexually abused by a man than a woman, the opposite is true for boys. Research for the helpline found that boys were more likely to say they had been abused by a woman than by a man.

‘This report has shattered common myths about sexual abuse,’ says ChildLine founder and president Esther Rantzen.

‘We’re trying to reach out to boys because we’ve always been concerned about two things: one is that four times as many girls were ringing ChildLine as boys, and the other is that suicide is the most common reason for young death among late teenage boys and early 20s young men.

‘The obvious conclusion is that they are allowing really distressing problems to build up without actually being able to ask for help.

‘So it became very important to ChildLine that boys felt able to ring us – and more of them are. But what it’s revealing is how many of them are being sexually abused by women.’

Historically, of course, it has been hard for society to accept that women abuse children at all. This is something which, according to Bill Jenkins, makes it even harder for boys to come forward and speak about what happened to them.

‘What chap, regardless of age, wants to admit his abuser is a woman?’ he says. ‘It’s not something that men will readily admit to. It implies you are a wimp.’

This emotional conflict is echoed by the voices of more recent victims, desperate boys and young teenagers who turn to ChildLine for help. Many of them fear being seen as unmasculine and worry that what is happening to them will be dismissed as a teenage rite of passage.

‘I’ve been having sex with my aunt – she’s 28,’ says one 15-year-old caller, in a harrowing transcript of his call. ‘I want it to stop ‘cos I know it’s wrong and my mother would go crazy if she knew but we keep doing it.’

And another 15-year-old: ‘Sometimes when Mum is very drunk she touches me and tries to get me to touch her. It makes me feel really weird. It’s not right.’

Following the case of Vanessa George, who pleaded guilty last month to seven counts of sexual abuse and distributing pornographic pictures of children at the nursery where she worked, the traditionally-held image of women as carers and nurturers, incapable of behaving in such a despicable fashion with a child, is being challenged as never before.

‘Years ago, people were very shocked to hear that children were abused at all,’ says child psychotherapist Diana Cant, who works with the victims of female sex abuse.

‘The same is now true about female sex abuse. People can hardly bear to think about it or get their minds around it. We want to push it away. It flies in the face of the image of mothers as carers.

‘It’s important for people to realise that it does happen and, as we do that, it becomes easier for survivors to talk about it. Many children go through life believing they are the only people to whom this has happened. There’s an enormous therapeutic benefit in realising that they are not alone.

‘For it to be more publicly recognised is enormously important in helping people get help.’

Experts have known for years that women are just as able to abuse children as men are. Detective Chief Inspector Graham Hill, of the Child Exploitation And Online Protection Centre in London (CEOP), has interviewed several female sex abusers.

‘There’s this cultural perception of women as the home-makers, and that men are the sexually aggressive ones,’ he explains.

‘Society as a whole has bought into that and the law has been shaped around that. The reality is very different. But those attitudes are ingrained.

‘When you start to talk about this subject, people tend to not want to know. They shut off because it’s a subject they don’t think is very common. They don’t think it’s something that warrants serious debate. As such, women tend to fly under the law enforcement radar.’

Yet DCI Hill insists ‘ChildLine’s findings are very much in line with our own’.

He adds: ‘We come into contact with lots of female sex offenders and we know that there are a number of women who have a sexual interest in children and that they do sexually abuse children. The idea that’s it’s always a woman being coerced by a man is a myth.

‘Although the number of female sex abusers is still very low compared to men, their offences tend to be of a more serious nature – at the top end of the spectrum.

‘At the same time, women abusers are far more likely to operate alone as opposed to being part of large-scale paedophile networks.

‘Their offending tends to start earlier in life in childhood. It’s not usually of a violent nature. They will start as children with other children.

‘Many female offenders we have spoken to are claiming they were victims of long-term physical and sexual abuse in childhood. But that’s quite a common claim for all sex offenders to make.

‘We don’t see large-scale networks with loads of women,’ says DCI Hill. ‘We see lots of men and sometimes a smattering of women who become involved.’

Disturbingly, he adds: ‘The majority of women we speak to will have abused their own children. Women tend to sexually abuse children who are close to them.’

This makes reporting such crimes even more difficult for child victims, who know that by doing so they may be kick-starting a process which will ultimate tear apart their family and, in all likelihood, see them being put into the care system.

‘If you are being sexually abused by your mother, there’s such a profound and primitive confusion,’ says Diana Cant. ‘It completely confuses sex and care-giving for both boys and girls.

‘They stand to lose everything and they fear that, if they report it, everything they know, their family, will be taken away.

‘And it’s not just their lives, it’s the lives of their siblings. There is also the issue that while one child may feel ready to disclose abuse, their brothers or sisters may not and may deny it, so there’s guilt and confusion there.’

Peter Bradley, an adolescent psychotherapist from the children’s protection charity Kidscape, adds: ‘The last thing a child wants is to be taken away from their mother – even if they’re in an abusive relationship.

‘That’s a huge obstacle when it comes to turning to any kind of authority for help. The message we need to give is that the intervention will be appropriate to the level of abuse and in conjunction with the child.’

And when youngsters do summon the courage to talk about it, the devastation caused by such abuse becomes clear.

Bill Jenkins, who channelled his anger about his own experiences into setting up Securus, a company selling internet protection software for schools and businesses, admits the abuse he suffered as a child had enormous implications in adulthood.

‘I didn’t realise for a long time that by instinct I was a woman hater, because my experience of this woman meant that I thought women were just to be used for sex,’ he says.

‘In my early years, that was it. I got married and had two children, but I couldn’t understand that a large part of marriage is based on friendship. I was never able to give myself totally to my wife. I always held back.’

Bill’s first marriage broke up and he has been married to his second wife for 20 years. ‘I was very open with her from the start,’ he says. ‘But even so, even being aware of that, I find it hard to give myself totally.’

He lives with the memory every day, but adds: ‘Being able to confront your demons is important. That’s the only way to put them behind you. I can’t change what went on, but accepting it helps you cope.

‘The past loses its power over you. I am happy to talk about it now because it helps me and I hope it helps others to seek help.’

It has been discovered that a large percentage of female child abusers abuse their own children

The true scale of the problem is as yet unclear. It is thought that high-profile media cases – such as that of Vanessa George – encourage victims to speak out.

‘When the public hears a story being told they feel they’re not alone, and because they feel less isolated they feel more able to talk about something which is a hugely taboo topic,’ says Peter Bradley.

‘We are not saying the number of offences of female sexual abuse are necessarily increasing, but that the number of reported cases have increased.’

Pointing out that the Vanessa George story really hit the headlines last month, Mr Bradley adds: ‘We’re sure that in this next 12 months the numbers of children reporting abuse by females will increase dramatically.

‘We are just at the tip of the iceberg.’ And while organisations such as ChildLine, which receives twice as many calls from girls as it does from boys, continue to try to encourage boys to speak out, experts are also agreed that more research is essential to protect children and understand what leads women to abuse in the first place.

According to DCI Hill: ‘We are sadly lacking in research in relation to female offenders. Only now, as more women are charged and are subject to sexual offenders’ treatment programmes and to academic research, will we start to understand the subtle differences between male and female offenders.

‘But that is still five or ten years away. What we are saying is that the debate needs to be out there. We need to talk openly about female offenders.’

No doubt many will still struggle with the idea that women are capable of such despicable behaviour.

But until attitudes change it is also clear that female abusers will continue to hide behind the benign image of mother, aunt or family friend and that this tiny minority of wrongdoers will escape notice.

This is an extract from a letter written by Tony, an adult struggling to come to terms with the abuse he suffered at the hands of his aunt from the age of three.

‘I know that the experts say that female sexual abuse is rare,’ he writes. ‘Don’t believe it. There are many out there like me who were abused and who are now causing more abuse.

‘I sometimes wonder how different my life might have been had my mother or someone else listened to the pain of a small boy.’



%d bloggers like this: